Between what is described as the Great Resignation in the West, standing for the trend of high attrition rate of employees at one end of the spectrum, and the fear of large-scale layoffs at the other, the high-tech job scene presents a picture of chaos. More importantly, the latter is more widespread in developing countries like India and the biggest irony is that those whose services are being dispensed with are the ones who need the jobs most. Flexibility in the job is one of the most important factors that bind employees to their employers, particularly in the US and other western countries, who are struggling to retain and find the right kind of staff. The pandemic and its aftermath have made it a lot easier for employees to shift jobs. According to McKinsey, in the US alone, four million workers are quitting their jobs every month and it has become a real task for employers to attract talent back into the workforce. Financial, tech, logistics, and shopping majors have been announcing massive layoffs in the wake of the recession eating into their profits, putting the fate of thousands of employees across sectors and industries on the block. The latest to join is Microsoft, which has announced a reduction of 1 percent in its staff strength, which means thousands of its employees will suddenly find themselves out of work as well as the right to live in their respective countries of posting.
It makes distressing reading that each day thousands of jobs are being eliminated. Facebook’s Meta and Microsoft are vacating office buildings in Seattle and Bellevue in Washington State as layoffs reduce the need for office space. In many cases, the victims come to know of their fate only through emails. Given that people of Indian origin account for a sizable size of the high-tech job market across the world, the decision by tech majors to lay off employees would mean the displacement of thousands of Indian families living in the US, UK, and other European nations. And with domicile rules being implemented vigorously by the respective governments, these families are suddenly faced with a situation in which they have to move lock, stock, and barrel, upsetting all their plans as well as the education of their children. E-commerce giant Amazon has announced its biggest staff-cutting exercise in history. Out of a total of 18,000 jobs eliminated, a thousand are in India.
This has given rise to a new trend in the high-tech job sector, which is described as ‘career cushioning’. Given the great uncertainty about the future that prevails across sectors and industries, employees are scouting around for options even when they are in the service of their current employer so that they have something to fall back upon in the event of a drastic decision by their company. It is perhaps easier to get a job when one is already employed and hence the significance of career cushioning. The realisation that one is not needed by his or her company damages the prospects of alternative employment and therefore it is always better to start hunting when things are more favourable. In this sense, career cushioning is catching on in India just as employers are coping with the continuing Great Resignation in the West.